• Despite a slow start from the pole, TRS Arden driver Sandy Mitchell battles through to take a first win at the wheel of a car
• Matheus Leist overcomes his lack of Thruxton knowledge to claim an impressive second, with Dan Baybutt making the overall podium for the first time

THRUXTON 9 MAY, 2015 – After dominating qualifying, 15-year-old Scottish track star Sandy Mitchell showed similar impressive style this afternoon at Thruxton to claim his maiden win at the wheel of a racing car. Sandy’s Ford EcoBoost-powered and TRS Arden-prepared machine took over at the sharp end of round seven of the MSA Formula Championship at mid-distance, fighting back after an indifferent start to beat Brazil’s Matheus Leist to the line by a second and a half.

It nearly all went wrong for Rookie racer Mitchell on the startline when he misjudged his getaway and threw away pole advantage, slipping to third behind Leist’s Double R car and the JHR Developments machine of Sennan Fielding. “I got too much wheelspin because I got the clutch position a bit wrong,” he said. “But I knew I had the pace and I was pretty sure that I’d be able to come through…”

Mitchell was awarded a breathing space to regroup and plan his attack when the safety car came on track at the end of the opening lap while stranded cars were retrieved from the circuit. At the restart on lap six he pounced on Fielding up Woodham Hill to secure second and then next time around seized the lead from Leist through Church.

Matheus, who had never seen Thruxton let alone driven it before today’s qualifying session, kept well in touch with Mitchell to the end but had no answer to Sandy’s speed. “It was hard because I had never been here before, no testing,” said the Brazilian. “I took P3 in qualifying, which was good, and this second place in the race is like a victory for me, it’s fantastic.”

Mitchell was similarly delighted: “This is my first win in a car, it’s very special, and a bit of a relief as well because I haven’t been getting the results I had hoped for. Hopefully now I can push on and win some more.”

The four-lap safety car interruption was brought about by a first-lap tangle involving several cars, including those of Petru Florescu (Carlin), Tarun Reddy (Double R) and Ameya Vaidyanathan. Separately, Ameya’s JTR team-mate James Pull also went off. The third JTR machine, of Dan Baybutt, survived the fracas. He said: “I got hit on the back corner and hit on the front corner, and it knocked my tracking out. I was lucky to get round and I was struggling a bit with understeer on some corners after that…”

There were plenty more dramas played out behind the leaders before flag fall, with Fielding’s third place coming under increasing pressure from Carlin man Lando Norris, culminating in a penultimate-lap clash between the two which led to Sennan’s retirement, a serious delay for Norris and a promotion to third place and his first overall podium for Baybutt.

After dropping as low as seventh with three laps to go, Hampshire hero Ricky Collard blasted through the mayhem to claim fourth at the line. “I made an average start and got pushed down the order a bit, but had the pace at the end to come through,” said Ricky, whose result helps him narrow his points deficit to championship leader Dan Ticktum to 21.

Ticktum enjoyed a better race than he did qualifying: his mysterious lack of pace in timed practice, which left his Fortec machine 17th on the grid, was diagnosed as a loose fire extinguisher rubbing on the ignition system. Dan’s rejuvenated car battled through to seventh by the end of the race, behind fifth-placed Colton Herta (Carlin) and Rafa Martins (SWB). Enaam Ahmed, who profited massively from the first-lap misfortunes of others to gain eight places, made it three Arden cars in the top eight.

Darius Karbaley hit the top 10 for the first time, racing to ninth for Falcon Motorsport, with Norris recovering from his late clash to finish 10th ahead of the cars of Jack Barlow, Louise Richardson, Jack Butel and Ollie Pidgley. Josh Smith completed the finishing order after losing time with a pit stop.

Racing resumes at Thruxton tomorrow, Sunday, with the reverse-grid race (which will see Ticktum starting from the pole) at 1045 and the MSA Formula finale live on ITV4 at 1515.

Thruxton qualifying
Sandy Mitchell hammered the opposition at Thruxton this morning, dominating qualifying at the wheel of his TRS Arden-prepared and Ford EcoBoost-powered car. The Forfar man was the only driver to break the 74-second mark around the 2.3-mile Hampshire circuit, and his best lap – 1m 13.264s – was an impressive eight-tenths of a second quicker than that of his closest rival.

Sandy’s second-fastest lap was not much slower at 1m 13.464s, which means he would start from top spot in both this afternoon’s seventh round of the championship and tomorrow afternoon’s live-televised round nine.

Mitchell’s previous qualifying best, at Donington Park last month, was fifth, and the Scotsman was delighted to have earned his maiden car-racing pole slots: “I think the key to this track is to be smooth, especially out at the back of the circuit in the fast corners. It was quite difficult not having tested here this week and to have to go straight into qualifying, but I was able to focus and get some good laps in, and the car was great. It’s good finally to translate the pace that I have had this season into a positive qualifying result. Hopefully I can do it again in the races.”

It was Carlin’s Lando Norris who ran Mitchell closest, with Double R’s Matheus Leist snatching third position overall in the closing moments of the session. Sennan Fielding’s freshly liveried JHR Developments car was fourth fastest, with Hampshire hero Ricky Collard – Mitchell’s Arden team-mate – fifth. “It’s a massive improvement for me,” said Ricky, whose previous qualifying top spot was eighth, “but I don’t know what my team-mate has got; he’s done a fantastic job and congratulations to him.”

Qualifying top 10
1 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 1m 13.264s
2 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1m 14.079s
3 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1m 14.080s
4 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1m 14.082s
5 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 1m 14.100s
6 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 1m 14.234s
7 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1m 14.374s
8 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R 1m 14.389s
9 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB 1m 14.451s
10 James PULL / GBR / JTR 1m 14.464s etc

Round 9 grid order (based on second-fastest times): Mitchell – Norris – Collard – Fielding – Leist – Baybutt – Florescu – Pull – Barlow – Martins etc

MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost
Provisional results Round 7, Thruxton 9 May 2015
13 laps / 30.63 miles
1 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 20m 54.035s / 87.92mph
2 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +1.533s
3 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +7.873s
4 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +8.015s
5 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +10.602s
6 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +10.960s
7 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec +11.822s
8 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +12.133s
9 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon +13.489s
10 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin +14.047s etc

Fastest lap Mitchell 1m 14.172s / 114.35mph Est Rec

Rookie class 1 Mitchell, 2 Baybutt, 3 Martins, 4 Ticktum, 5 Ahmed, 6 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon, 7 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec/

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Ticktum 120 points; 2 Collard 99; 3 Leist 83; 4 James Pull 77; 5 Norris 75; 6 Jack Barlow 46 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 171; 2 Baybutt 116; 3 Ahmed 73, 4 Mitchell 71; 5 Smith 65; 6 Petru Florescu 59 etc